FOX is told that the House Republican leadership has not made a decision about how to handle efforts to expel Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) this week.
Rep. Robert Garcia (D-Calif.) is essentially calling the GOP’s bluff to either vote to expel Santos – or make it look like Republicans are protecting the New York Republican.
Garcia re-introduced a terse, privileged resolution to expel Santos. The resolution simply states that "Pursuant to Article I, Section 5, Clause 2 of the Constitution of the United States, Representative George Santos, be, and he hereby is, expelled from the House of Representatives."
The Garcia resolution is "privileged." That means the House must consider it by Thursday at the latest. A similar resolution calling for the expulsion of Santos – authored by Ethics Committee Chairman Michael Guest (R-Miss.) – is not privileged. Guest’s resolution is much more detailed, citing the House Ethics Committee report on Santos. By not crafting his resolution in a manner that is "privileged," the House is not compelled to bring up Guest’s measure right away. Moreover, the House GOP leadership has not scheduled any action on Guest’s plan. One senior House GOP leadership source indicated to FOX that the House may tangle with Guest’s resolution on Friday. But the Garcia gambit may supersede that. And it could put GOP members in a pickle.
Scores of Republicans were unwilling to expel Santos before there was an Ethics Committee report. The Ethics panel produced a scathing report before Thanksgiving. That increased the number of members who were willing to expel Santos. But Santos has not been convicted in a court of law. The House has only expelled five members in history: three for siding with the Confederacy. The other two - former Rep. Ozzie Myers (D-Pa.) and the late Rep. Jim Traficant (D-Ohio) – were convicted.
FOX is told there is still consternation among some Republican leaders and rank-and-file GOP members about expelling Santos. They cite the fact that Santos has yet to be convicted. A number of Republicans are worried about the precedent that expelling Santos would set – sans a conviction in a court of law.
FOX is also told there is increasing concern about the GOP’s dwindling majority if the House were to expel Santos. That comes even as Republicans add a new member to their ranks tonight: Rep.-elect Celeste Maloy (R-Utah).
Democrats would enjoy nothing more than watching Republicans sweat over how to handle another vote to expel Santos. The House has already killed two resolutions to expel Santos this year.
It’s possible Republicans could move to table or kill a resolution to expel Santos. So, the actual roll call vote would be one step removed from expulsion. Democrats would point to that vote as Republicans using the motion to table as a fig leaf, trying to protect Santos. Democrats will document that roll call vote and use it against Republicans on the campaign trail in 2024.
However, if the House votes to expel Santos, the deed is done. And Democrats can crow that it took Democrats to expel Santos. They will argue that the House Republican leadership lacked the moral fiber to call a vote to expel Santos.
The worst possible scenario for Republicans – and it may be in play – is for the House to actually hold a straight up or down vote on expelling Santos – and have it fail.
Democrats certainly don’t believe Santos ought to be a member of the House. But Democrats would highlight a failed expulsion vote as a GOP effort to protect Santos.
The reason a failed expulsion vote is in play? The bar for expulsion is high. It takes a two-thirds vote to expel. It’s about the math: 290 yeas if all 435 House members (once Maloy is sworn-in) cast ballots.
Failed expulsion votes are even more rare than actual expulsions. There have only been three failed expulsions in House history.
The House failed to kick out Rep. Preston Brooks (D-S.C.) after he nearly caned to death Sen. Charles Sumner (R-Mass.) in the Old Senate Chamber of the Capitol in 1856.
The House also failed to expel Rep. Lovell Rosseau (D-Ky.) after he assaulted Rep. Josiah Grinnell (R-Iowa) in 1866.
The House then failed to bounce former Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) from the House in 1990 for his connection with a gay, male prostitute.